Women in their 40s May Benefit from Annual Mammograms



A new study finds that women in their 40s with dense breasts benefit from annual mammograms.


 

WOMEN IN THEIR 40s MAY BENEFIT FROM ANNUAL MAMMOGRAMS

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) ignited a firestorm of controversy in 2009 when the government agency recommended that most women between the ages of 50 and 74 should undergo screening mammograms every other year,instead of every year. Even more controversial was the USPSTF’s recommendation that most healthy women between the ages and 40 and 49 should no longer undergo routine screening mammograms. Numerous cancer advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society, subsequently recommended that the USPSTF’s revised guidelines for screening mammograms should, essentially, be ignored, and that women with an average risk of developing breast cancer should continue to undergo annual screening mammograms starting at age 40.

In 2010, following the USPSTF’s controversial recommendations, a significant drop in the number of annual screening mammograms performed on women in their 40s was observed, leading to concern among some breast cancer experts that many cases of breast cancer might go undiagnosed among 40 to 49 year-old women.

Now, a newly published study, which appears in the online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine, provides important new data regarding the potential impact of switching from annual screening mammograms to every-other-year (biennial) mammograms.

In this very large study, researchers analyzed prospectively collected data from mammography facilities throughout the United States that participated in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium. Data was prospectively collected on 11,474 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and 922,624 women without breast cancer.

The findings of this enormous public health study strongly suggest that the USPSTF’s recommendations that women between the ages of 50 and 74 undergo every-other-year mammograms may actually be reasonable and safe. When compared to women in this age range who underwent screening mammograms every year, the women who underwent biennial mammograms did not have a higher incidence of advanced-stage breast cancers. An additional important finding was that even women aged 50 or older with very dense breast tissue, or women above 50 who had taken hormone replacement therapy, appeared not to experience any harm by undergoing biennial mammograms instead of annual mammograms. As both of these factors increase a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, the finding of this study that women between 50 and 74 years of age can safely undergo screening mammograms every other year (instead of every year) is of particular significance.

In contrast to women between the ages of 50 and 74, this research study’s findings regarding women between the ages of 40 and 49 call into question the USPSTF’s recommendation that women in this age range need not undergo regular screening mammograms. Among the women in this study between the ages of 40 and 49, every-other-year screening mammograms (rather than every year) resulted in a significant increase in the incidence of more advanced-stage breast cancers. In fact, women in this age range, who often have very dense breast tissue, were 89 percent more likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancers if they underwent every-other-year mammograms when compared to comparably aged women with dense breast tissue who underwent annual screening mammograms.

I consider this to be a very important clinical research study, and its findings may well lead to changes in the current recommendations regarding screening mammograms. At the same time, it will be important to follow the nearly one million women who participated in this public health study, to see if breast long-term cancer survival rates are impacted by the timing of screening mammograms (i.e., annual versus biennial mammograms).

It is critically important to avoid the multiple lifestyle and dietary factors known to increase the risk of breast cancer. For more research-based information on this important topic, please read the extended chapter on breast cancer in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!


Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.


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According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, more than 3.1 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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Mammograms Predict Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Welcome to Weekly Health Update


“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”




MAMMOGRAMS PREDICT RISK OF

HEART DISEASE AND STROKE

In view of the growing concern about the potential adverse health effects of CT scans (including increased cancer risk), the enthusiasm for performing CT scans of the heart and coronary arteries, as a noninvasive method of diagnosing asymptomatic heart disease, has been decreasing. Now, an innovative clinical research study, which has just been published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, has evaluated the potential value of mammograms (which use low-dose x-rays to screen for breast cancer) to predict the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Calcification of the arteries within the breast are detected in approximately 10 to 20 percent of mammograms, and the incidence of these vascular calcifications rise in proportion to a woman’s age. Previous clinical research studies have suggested that the presence of vascular calcifications on mammograms may be an important early indicator of cardiovascular disease risk. However, the clinical research data in this area has been somewhat inconsistent, to date.

In this prospective clinical research study, 1,919 women, with an average age of 56 years, who presented for routine annual screening mammograms were subsequently followed for 5 years.Data was collected regarding their cardiovascular disease risk factors, and their own personal history (if any) of cardiovascular disease, as well as the presence or absence of cardiovascular disease in family members. This data was collected at the beginning of the study, and was updated throughout the course of the study.

The findings of this study were quite dramatic. During the 5-year course of this study, 21 percent of the women who were noted to have vascular calcifications within the breast, on routine mammography, were found to have coronary artery disease, while only 5 percent of the women without vascular calcifications on mammography had clinical evidence of coronary artery disease. Among those women with no clinical evidence of coronary heart disease at the beginning of this clinical study, 6 percent of those with vascular calcifications eventually developed coronary artery disease during the brief 5-year course of this study (compared to 2 percent of the women without vascular calcifications of the breast). Moreover, among healthy women with no history of coronary artery disease at the beginning of this study, 58 percent went on to experience a stroke if they had vascular calcifications in the breast, while 13 percent of the women without vascular calcifications of the breast experienced a stroke during this 5-year study.

The findings of this clinical research study strongly suggest that vascular calcifications of the breast, in women who are undergoing routine annual screening mammograms, may be a powerful indicator of increased risk for both coronary artery disease and stroke. While larger and longer-term prospective clinical research studies should be performed to validate the findings of this relatively small clinical research study, the findings of this study are consistent with earlier studies that have also linked vascular calcifications of the breast with a significant increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the results of this study suggest that there may be an important secondary role for screening mammograms, beyond early detection of breast cancer. As women who have evidence of arterial calcifications of the breast by mammography (when compared to women without vascular calcifications) appear to be nearly 4 times more likely to have coronary artery disease, and have more than 4 times the risk of stroke, the presence of vascular calcifications on screening mammograms should prompt patients and their physicians to look for risk factors that can be modified to reduce the risk of premature illness and death related to cardiovascular disease.

For a complete discussion of the potential impact of medical x-rays (including CT scans) on cancer risk, as well as important evidence-based approaches to cancer prevention, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race. For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!


On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!



Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity




Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author




For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: Texas Blues Jam



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.






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Mammograms Save Lives in Women with Family History of Breast Cancer

 

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”




MAMMOGRAMS SAVE LIVES IN WOMEN WITH

FAMILY HISTORY OF BREAST CANCER

 

While the debate about whether or not routine screening mammograms can save lives continues in some circles, the clinical research evidence supporting mammograms as a lifesaving cancer screening exam continues to accumulate.  Now, a newly published public health study, which appears in The Lancet Oncology, examines the survival benefit associated with routine screening mammograms in women who have a family history of breast cancer.

In this large multicenter prospective clinical research study, which was performed in the UK, 6,710 women between the ages of 40 and 42 were enrolled in this study, and were followed for an average of about 4 years.  These women, who had at least some family history of breast cancer, underwent annual screening mammograms as part of this clinical research study.  This study used two important control groups to assess the impact of regular annual screening mammograms on the risk of mortality in these young women.  The first control group consisted of women who were at average risk for breast cancer (these women, themselves, served as the control group for the enormous UK Age Trial, which included more than 106,000 patient volunteers, and which recently reported a 10-year follow-up of its results).  The second control group, against which these 6,710 women with an intermediate familial risk of breast cancer were compared, included young women from another large public health study that was performed in the Netherlands.

Among the 136 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer during the relatively brief course of this ongoing study, 77 percent were diagnosed by screening mammography, while 21 percent were diagnosed when they presented with a new breast lump (or with other clinical signs or symptoms of breast cancer).  (Another 2 percent of patients failed to attend their scheduled screening mammograms, and subsequently developed clinical signs or symptoms of breast cancer.)

In this study (and as other studies have shown, even among women who are at average risk of developing breast cancer), breast cancers that were detected by annual screening mammograms were significantly smaller in size, and significantly less likely to be associated with the spread of cancer to the lymph nodes.  In addition to these very important breast cancer prognostic factors, women who were diagnosed with breast cancer as a result of annual screening mammograms had much less aggressive appearing tumors under the microscope when compared to women who were diagnosed with breast cancer only after a lump, or other signs of breast cancer, appeared.

Based upon the findings of this newly published study, young women with even an intermediate risk of breast cancer, based upon having one or more relatives with breast cancer, were 20 percent less likely to die within 10 years when compared with a poorly screened, or unscreened, average-risk population of young women.  Moreover, this survival advantage appeared to be directly related to annual screening mammograms, once all other breast cancer risk factors among these three populations of women had been considered.

 

For a complete discussion of the compelling scientific evidence linking routine screening mammograms with a decreased risk of death due to breast cancer, please see the extended clinical section on breast cancer in my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.

  

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GIVE THE GIFT OF HEALTH THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!  For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores! 

On Thanksgiving Day, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com Top 100 Bestseller’s List for Kindle e-books!



Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

Texas Blues Jam


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (As of 9/16/2010, more than 1,000,000 health-conscious people have logged onto Weekly Health Update so far this year!)  As always, I enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 

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Mammograms Between 40 and 49 Years of Age

 

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”


pink-ribbon-image

   

 

OCTOBER IS NATIONAL BREAST CANCER

 

AWARENESS MONTH

 

 

 

MAMMOGRAMS BETWEEN 40 AND 49 YEARS OF AGE

Both patients and their physicians were stunned last year when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against routine annual screening mammograms in women between the age of40 and 49 years (as has been the standard recommendation in the United States, and in most countries around the world, for many years).  The USPSTF’s recommendations quickly set off a firestorm of debate regarding the calculations and public health considerations used by the USPSTF to arrive at this surprising recommendation.  Since the USPSTF released its recommendations in the fall of 2009, most breast cancer specialists and breast cancer advocacy groups have continued to recommend that women who are at average risk of developing breast cancer begin routine annual screening mammograms at age 40. 

As I extensively discuss in my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, there is ample available clinical research data showing that screening mammograms detect breast cancer at an earlier stage than other commonly available screening methods, and that survival is improved in women in whom breast cancer is first detected by a mammogram (as opposed to the detection of a palpable or visible breast mass).

Now, a newly published large-scale public health study from Sweden, which appears in the current issue of the journal Cancer, offers further important evidence that the routine use of annual screening mammograms among women between 40 and 49 years of age significantly reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer.

In this enormous study, women between the ages of 40 and 49 years were separated into two groups, depending upon whether or not they underwent annual screening mammograms between 1986 and 2005 (the average duration of patient follow-up in this study was a very impressive 16 years).  In this very powerful research study, young women who underwent annual mammograms accounted for 7.3 million “person-years” of observation, while the young women who did not undergo mammograms accounted for a similarly astonishing 8.8 million “person-years” of observation within this landmark public health study. 

When the number of breast cancer deaths were assessed in both of these huge groups of young women, the women who underwent routine annual mammograms were found to be 29 percent less likely to die of breast cancer when compared to the young women who did not undergo annual mammograms!  (In public health terms, this 29 percent observed reduction in the death rate due to breast cancer is highly clinically significant!)

 

This public health study, which encompassed the entire country of Sweden, is the largest mammography study of its kind, and its findings are both powerful and persuasive in defense of beginning routine annual screening mammograms at the age of 40 in women who are at average risk of developing breast cancer.  It is my hope that the dramatic findings of this huge clinical study will now lay to rest any lingering doubts regarding the effectiveness of screening mammograms, beginning at 40 years of age, in reducing the risk of death due to breast cancer.

 

 

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I urge our tens of thousands of regular Weekly Health Update readers to join in the global fight against breast cancer.  There are numerous organizations and groups, in virtually every community, that are sponsoring fundraising activities throughout October, including the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  Another opportunity to participate (and at no cost!) is to vote for the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation Army of Women project in the Pepsi Refresh competition!  There are also many other worthwhile and deserving fundraising programs available for everyone to become involved in! 

 

For an evidence-based discussion of the critical importance of breast cancer screening, including mammograms, in a cancer prevention lifestyle, order your copy of my new landmark book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores! 


 


 

Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity



Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (As of 9/16/2010, more than 1,000,000 health-conscious people have logged onto Weekly Health Update so far this year!)  As always, I enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.



 

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